Ethics, Responsibility, and Sustainability in MBAs. Understanding the Motivations for the Incorporation of ERS in Less Traditional Markets
- How do predictors for ERS in management education work in BS operating in regions with different history, background, legacies, and trajectories than those in the Global North? What is the influence (if any) of the government/regulations and other institutions on building the BS identity and learning activities through ERS criteria?
- How do mechanisms (mainly moderators and/or mediators) act for the engagement of different stakeholders in management education beyond the traditional BS based in the Global North? What is the influence (if any) on individual programs at the curricular level, in particular MBAs? How is ERS included in the learning objectives and methodologies?
- How do individual motivations underpin ERS in these higher education institutions? Are they market-driven, a reflection of benevolent school values, or a personal commitment to tackle broader social challenges?
2. Research Context
3. Research Method and Qualitative Data
4. Case Analyses
4.1. Case Study 1 (BS1)
4.2. Case Study 2 (BS2)
4.3. Case Study 3 (BS3)
5. Interviews Analysis (See Table 2 for a Summary of the Collected Data)
5.1. Competitor MBAs
5.2. MBA Graduates
5.3. MBA Employers
6. Discussion and Implications
6.1. Predictors: Regulations/Accreditations, School’s Mission, and Individual Motivations
6.2. Mediator: ERS-Related Learning Activities
6.3. Moderators: Teaching Methodology, Accreditation Processes, and Employers’ Expectations
7. Limitations and Future Research
8. Contributions and Conclusions
Conflicts of Interest
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|Case Studies.||# Master of Business Administration (MBA) Students||Location||Developed by|
|Case study 1—BS1||200+||Asia||Managing Director|
|Case study 2—BS2||200+||Latin America||Dean|
|Case study 3—BS3||250+||Southern Europe||Dean and MBA Director|
|CO1||Competitor MBA||Asia||MBA Director|
|CO2||Latin America||MBA Director|
|CO3||Southern Europe||MBA Director|
|GR1||MBA Graduate (interviewed within 6 months of finishing the program)||Asia||Senior Consultant|
|GR2||Latin America||Senior Manager|
|GR3||Southern Europe||Senior Manager|
|EM2||Latin America||Owner-Medium-sized family business|
|Level||Question||Source||Most Relevant Quotes|
|Motivations||CO2, CO3||The content and focus of the MBA are what the market demands, and for this we benchmark what others do in the national market … considering market what candidates seek CO2.|
Candidates look first for general management, then finance, and then marketing when looking for an MBA CO2.
Students have to understand the companies in their program; from this point, I think what school is doing is that they’re looking on the market and we have directors, we are looking on the market. And what is the market demanding from the students now CO3.
To fulfil the requirements from the regulator, we have some competencies that are required to be covered CO3.
|Underlying mechanisms (mainly mediators/moderators)||CO1, CO3||The new Dean used to work in XXX University, so we benchmark our programs with its BS CO1.|
It is a pity from regulator’s requirements that we don’t have much flexibility to change the program, this is coming from the country’s system. The pity is that you are not so flexible when you want to change the core mandatory program nor the mandatory courses that they have to take CO3.
|CO1, CO2, CO3, EM2||The details of the program did not happen from the government side, but rather from the market side. As a business school, we need to know what kind of future talent is required in the market CO1.|
We have always thought that AMBA provides us with a very good framework, on how to develop our program in a very efficient way, in a sustainable way CO1.
Large companies are increasingly focused on CSR, but smaller companies are more interested in survival and make money CO2.
In my experience of more than 20 years, I have never seen CSR in the requirements for new employers CO2.
CSR is less important than the other points that they look. I mean, the mindset is still not there. Companies look for some specific competences but CSR is not part of them CO3.
The ERS part in the recruitment stage is difficult to measure, but we rely heavily on references, after all this is a small world EM2.
|Motivations||CO1, CO2, CO3, EM1, EM2, EM3||The new Dean really brings some very new ideas, very advanced cutting-edge ideas and see that we need to shift from the traditional one to the most advanced one… he really has a very good view for the future CO1.|
There is no requirement from the University on the content and focus, it is mainly on the market and the experts; the program director is responsible to take the lead on this CO2.
The mission of the school is preparing professionals suitable for the market so they can do better in their careers CO3.
We have some values for the success of the company EM1.
In every interview we show the six values of the company and see how they can be compatible with the candidate EM2
During the interview we try to see how candidates can fit the values of the company. The personal fit with us is worth around 30% in the recruitment process EM3.
|Underlying mechanisms (mainly mediators/moderators)||CO1, CO3, GR1, GR2, GR3, EM1, EM2, EM3||We can only build up this kind of sense in the CSR course, so that they know what would be the general requirement of business in the future CO1.|
There are many definition and ways of thinking. There’s no one. In the case of CSR or sustainability, is there any, do you have a definition of this, because this is very broad CO1.
CSR is included in the program in a specific compulsory course (one of ten) and also implicit in some of the other compulsory courses.
In strategic management, even in marketing, things like that, you have to be ethical, you have to take a corporate social responsibility mindset, but also in the structure. And you know the things we cover in the courses, sometimes we don’t have time to repeat those things in different courses. So we focus more on the people and soft skill management part, than on specific things like CSR or ethics, ethical behavior, and that in each of the courses CO3.
As the program director I don’t request the professors to specifically add the CSR in strategic management CO3.
It’s difficult to measure how much the school can contribute to the person’s ethical or sustainable views CO3.
The school can help to shape a bit, but in the one or two years that they are at the school, it wouldn’t change drastically how the person is CO3.
The first thing I looked for was what kind of company resources and network. And then second, the design of the curriculum GR1.
In the CSR course I learned that discrimination is part of corporate social responsibility, and the importance of diversity and respect, the differences among cultures. I also got the importance of anti-corruption GR1.
In the interview for my current job at [a major internationally renowned consulting firm] they did not say anything about sustainability. But when I received the welcome letter it was in the front GR1.
I checked many programs and the contents are basically the same GR2.
From the Nordic faculty that taught the CSR courses I could learn how this is done in the leading countries, and compare with the situation in my own country GR2.
To improve the MBA learning I would propose to see first-hand how companies are working on CSR GR2.
I was checking MBAs with more focus on strategic management, finance/accounting, or consultancy GR3.
CSR is important, but not essential to me in and MBA GR3.
I think what is more important for an MBA is to have the perspective of the corporate responsibility but from the company side, rather than only a course GR3.
We expect people to be accountable… we check this during the interviews EM1.
From candidates we expect they understand how we do business. The first is we need to make money, this is the first point to be sustainable; then the second point is to be responsible in hiring, purchasing, etc., and also in the community EM1.
In my experience… most students in XXX MBA where I taught do not have even knowledge of sustainability, or it was too simple EM1.
Students need to make a linkage between business, between markets, between customers, and finally there is the integration on sustainability and sustainable market EM1.
When they are students it is too early for them to understand, it is real life, and then they are facing management challenges…if they can lead in this direction they can give lots of benefits to society EM1.
The way to teach students, the way to inspire students make the difference EM1.
If MBA students do not have the experience, it is a waste of money… if they cannot apply what they are learning there is no real value EM1.
Sustainability for us is to be long term in the market EM2
I would like to see a more social and environmental elements embedded in the development of persons during their education EM2
We have specific universities/BS in the list of preferred suppliers due to their education in ERS EM3.
|CO3, GR1, GR2, EM1, EM2, EM3||Companies expect people to bring good values, but they are not measuring their CSR credentials in the hiring. This is basically what we are seeing CO3.|
What I see is that CSR is less relevant than other factors when they choose MBA CO3.
First is the faculty and their cultural background, the diversity of cultural background of the faculty. And secondly, their professional experience” GR1.
After the MBA, when I read about a company I want to work, I can analyze these points [related to ERS]. Whether they have a CSR program, and whether if ethics is important for them or not. So if the ethics is not important for them, I prefer to say no to that company, because it also depends on me GR2.
The most important thing we look for in candidates are analytical thinking, diversity awareness/cultural differences, results focus/ability to deliver EM1
My company received the Sustainability Business Award from the China-Europe Chamber of Commerce EM1.
There is no big difference between one university and another university EM1.
We look for a proactive person, who can also be entrepreneurial…and analytical persons with data, budgets, dashboards… EM2.
The MBA has been commoditized, and not all universities prepare their graduates in analytical skills EM2.
In graduates from specific universities, like XXX, YYY, ZZZ, we focus on the technical element, and we tend to recruit from the ones that are renowned in creating good professionals EM2.
The most important things when recruiting are personal skills; within this the professional/technical skills are the most important points EM3.
We are leading in sustainability in the industry, for example changed the entire fleet to electric vehicles for 3000 daily routes, and this puts us in what people want EM3.
|Individual||Motivations||CO1, CO2, CO3, GR1, GR2, GR3||All our goal when we develop a new program is to fulfill the requirements of the market CO1.|
For the current student/manager, CSR is in second place, the first place is taken by technical skills …. in our courses most of students are executives with several years that want to certify their experience. CO2.
We still need to strengthen the culture in our country to have a wider focus on CSR, especially in education where graduates are agents of change CO2.
From my experience what they see outside the company is not important, they do not give much importance to CSR when they hire someone CO3.
[BS1] was the only MBA institute that had an entire global faculty GR1.
Before the CSR course [in the MBA] I thought it was only a field of study, but then I realized it is actually a joint effort by different stakeholders and how we stand, what kind of code of behavior for sustainability, and what kind of social responsibility should we take into consideration GR1.
The MBA gave me the awareness…now I want to work for a company with a clear focus on social responsibility, even if I sacrifice income GR1.
I looked for an MBA outside my country to have an international experience, and then for expertise in marketing GR2.
For me, to have that kind of [CSR] classes were really, really good, because they give me a really different point of view GR2.
Now I can decide to work for a company with responsibility credentials, even if it pays less. I need to get some money [to pay the 50% of my MBA], but not to get money I will do anything GR2.
I looked for an MBA with international exposure, beyond the academic part GR3.
If I take a job in a company with lower sustainability credentials but with a higher salary, then the thing is that I do not know if it will still be operating in five years. I need money now to repay the MBA. GR3.
|Underlying mechanisms (mainly mediators/moderators)||CO1, CO2, GR2||When we say that this is a general requirement that should be incorporated in every course, then professors decide how their courses include this kind of contents CO1.|
The definition and approach for CSR teaching is decided by each professor CO2.
I wanted a really good MBA, a good MBA with a reputation. For me, it is important that the degree could be used all over the world GR2.
What really clicked with me was more the picture of my country against the teachers’ country, that totally changed my mind GR2.
|Predictors/Institutions/Government||CO1, CO2, CO3, GR3, EM2||Companies usually say, we do not want to hire MBAs because they just have the theories, but they do not know how to solve the problem when a new challenge comes CO1.|
The fees of the MBA program are also a predictor of the level of the students/graduates, usually those that can afford an MBA already have a good position; this means that we teach those that do not need it CO2.
I think it’s a cycle that companies now are getting more aware of. They are giving more importance. So they will incorporate more and more this in the future I think for the new hires that they will do CO3.
Though CSR is important, I don’t think companies are taking it as a priority. They are not taking that as their priority even though they say that. Although personally I think that it’s important GR3.
A person that fails with truth or shows low quality is fired EM2.
I see ERS as an investment, when you help people there is a reduction in loses, the more we help the community the better the result EM2.
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Fornes, G.; Monfort, A.; Ilie, C.; Koo, C.K.; Cardoza, G. Ethics, Responsibility, and Sustainability in MBAs. Understanding the Motivations for the Incorporation of ERS in Less Traditional Markets. Sustainability 2019, 11, 7060. https://doi.org/10.3390/su11247060
Fornes G, Monfort A, Ilie C, Koo CK, Cardoza G. Ethics, Responsibility, and Sustainability in MBAs. Understanding the Motivations for the Incorporation of ERS in Less Traditional Markets. Sustainability. 2019; 11(24):7060. https://doi.org/10.3390/su11247060Chicago/Turabian Style
Fornes, Gaston, Abel Monfort, Camelia Ilie, Chun Kwong (Tony) Koo, and Guillermo Cardoza. 2019. "Ethics, Responsibility, and Sustainability in MBAs. Understanding the Motivations for the Incorporation of ERS in Less Traditional Markets" Sustainability 11, no. 24: 7060. https://doi.org/10.3390/su11247060